Wrongful Death Attorney Referral Service
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is a claim that can be filed when a person dies due to the negligence of another person or entity. This is a civil lawsuit, so the remedy sought in civil court is usually monetary damages. A wrongful death suit can be brought against an individual or entity even if criminal charges have been brought against the individual or entity as well.
When a wrongful death suit is brought, there are several types of damages that can be claimed. Damages can be brought to compensate the decedent’s estate or the decedent’s surviving family members for the personal losses they have suffered as a result of the death of their loved one.
If the losses being claimed are to compensate the decedent’s estate, they include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical and hospital bills
- Lost income
- Potential income the decedent would reasonably have been expected to earn in the future had he or she not been killed
If the losses are meant to compensate the decedent’s loved ones, they include:
- The value of household services
- Loss of love
- Loss of anticipated financial support
- Loss of community
- Loss of attention
- Loss of affection
- Loss of moral support
- Loss of guidance
Wrongful death is simply a type of personal injury claim. In California, it must be filed within a specific time period. The California statute of limitations on wrongful death claims states that a claim must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
To file a wrongful death suit, one must be in a specific class of people listed under California law. This class of people includes:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings
- Children of deceased siblings of the decedent
- Individuals who were financially dependent on the decedent at the time of his or her death
It is important to note that if multiple family members are bringing a wrongful death case against an individual or entity, the damages being awarded in that case – if successful – must be divided amongst the family members.
A jury will typically award damages to the family members bringing the lawsuit in a lump sum. This lump sum is often then divided according to the desire of the family members. However, sometimes the family members cannot agree as to how the damages should be distributed amongst themselves. When this happens, the court can step in and declare how the award should be divided.
How do I choose a wrongful death attorney that is right for me?
If you and your loved ones have experienced the death of a family member due to the wrongful actions or negligence of another individual or entity, you should seek a personal injury attorney with specific experience in wrongful death cases.
A wrongful death attorney will have the knowledge and experience needed to counsel you and your loved ones on the best course of action for your case. While the damages listed above are available in all wrongful death cases, your lawyer will be able to more concretely explain exactly how much you and your loved ones can request from the negligent party.
You should choose a wrongful death attorney who you feel comfortable speaking with about personal, private issues. The death of a loved one is often painful, traumatic, and emotional. You will want to be working with someone who is compassionate and understanding about your situation yet aggressively advocating for you and anyone else involved in the lawsuit.
Finally, it is always good to see your potential attorney’s track record with previous cases. Oftentimes, personal injury attorneys will list their positive jury verdicts and settlement agreements. A wrongful death attorney who is often successful in securing positive jury verdicts or settlements with a negligent third party is one that you will want to hire to handle your case.